Harben – Lewes Cliff

The Harben family history starts with a clock maker, Thomas Harben (1707 to 1766). He was apprenticed in 1724 to Thomas Barratt (one of the earliest clockmakers in Lewes) and the subsequent long case clocks produced essentially follow the same design. While the later Harben generations generally moved to other professions at least one son continued until around 1810 making ‘Harben” clocks in Lewes, East Sussex, England.

This page is very much a work in progress and makes no attempt at being a horologically definitive presentation about clocks produced by either Thomas Harben or descendants.

There are three Harben clocks presented below, two from dealers (UK and USA) and the third from a private owner in Holland.

Unresolved questions;

  • Which descendants continued making Harben clocks
  • Is there an identifiable difference between clocks produced by Thomas Harben senior and of his son?
  • How many were made?
  • How many survive?
  • Where the clocks noted for anything?

Clock One

Offered for sale in 2007 by The Incurable Collector Antiques Ltd., New York, USA.

Described as:

Antique Tall Case Clock
Late 18th Century
A fine antique English signle digit tall case clock with oak case and silvered face made by Harben of Lewes Cliff.

Some old cracks, clock is in working condition.

height: 198.12 cm (6 ft. 6 in.)
depth: 25.4 cm (10 in.)
width/length: 43.18 cm (1 ft. 5 in.)

Below, close up on clock face (note this image has had its presepective and colour range changed in Photoshop – original image is below)

Clock Two

Described as:

A Harben & Co, George III Mahogany 30-hour longcase clock, circa 1790.

A 6 foot 7 inch elegantly proportioned mahogany case with flat top hood and long trunk door, the 11 inch silvered dial signed ‘Harben & Co, Lewes” the corners engraved with flowers, with pierced blue steel hands. With a thirty-hour posted frame (birdcage) movement with chain drive and outside counterwheel striking on a bell”

Clock Three

This clock is in private ownership in Holland.

The clock face, right, is of a currently undated Harben clock in private ownership in Holland. To quote the owner; “Our clock is one-handed (originally) and very simple. It´s made of oak and it rings very loud with one bell. Under his makers name there are the words: IN Ye CLIFF.”

Clock Four

This a privately held clock based in Lewes, West Sussex. Unlike other clocks so far seen this one is unusal in that there is a rocking ship (in time with the pendulum), together with a painted background and the inscription “Success to the jolly sailors”.